July 3, 2020 was the release date of Core 2021 and a lot of people were fairly excited for it. Spoiler season held a lot of great surprises for each format and every type of player in the Magic community. We got some great reprints, beautiful collector cards, and even a keyword no one ever thought would come back to standard. What could go wrong from there you ask? Quarantine.
Covid-19 has taken it's toll on many aspects of life for everyone this year and Magic: The Gathering is definitely not immune to it's affects. We watched many LGSs struggle with financial constraints (even causing some to shut down), Wizards of The Coast made the decision to stop physical tournaments and local play, many printing centers were slowed or stopped, and Arena play increased due to players having to stay home. There were many other things going on, but let's break down how each of those things has an affect
Local Game Stores
Many of our favorite game stores took a massive hit with mandatory shut downs across the country. A large portion of income for many stores is from FNM entry fees, sales on singles, snacks, and having a general audience present. If people are in your store they are very likely to spend money. This made it hard for a lot of places that don't have an online store or a large enough presence to stay open. Even bigger stores such as Card Kingdom and Cool Stuff Inc. struggled a bit. Those stores closing means two things though: their inventory is now able to be bought out or moved; and people will be looking for a new place to obtain product. As horrible as it is for a store to close, that very well means you might have the opportunity to invest in some cards that you otherwise wouldn't have the chance to.
Wizards of the Coast said "we will not sanction tournaments during this time" and it was a great choice. The environment of an FNM or large tournaments is a bit disgusting when you think about it. There are a lot of people touching a lot of things (ever offer your opponent a deck cut?), talking, breathing, coughing, etc. and that could lead to a TON of exposure. One person could easily get an entire 1k Tournament sick. However this also led to less paper product being sold/purchased. Ikoria wasn't as bad of a crash, but Core 2021 is taking a huge hit from the fact that no one needs physical cards right now.
With Covid-19 hitting the entire world, a lot of companies globally have slowed down or shut down entirely to quarantine. This is a direct correlation with the fact that Jumpstart and Double Masters are having printing issues right now. Many distributors and stores had to cut significant numbers for these sets because allocations were halved or quartered. My own LGS even told us that if we preordered Jumpstart and 2XM together that we could not collect Jumpstart on it's release date because they wouldn't have enough to give out. I even paid cash for my product, but still have to wait. Core 2021 wasn't hit quite as hard because it had already been through the process for a short time, but that creates a supply/demand environment for certain stores and certain cards. This is one of the reasons certain mythics or rares in JMP are sky high at the moment.
Tons of players have taken to Arena to get their game on. Wizards even created the FNM at Home events to help with Friday night fever. On top of that, Historic got a great addition with Jumpstart and Core 2021 is super easy to open. I'm confident Arena has never seen so many players. The Covid-19 situation has caused an influx of tournaments online to arise, and even the creation of MTGMelee. If you have all of the cards you need to play on Arena and no physical place to play - why would you need to buy those cards right now?
The Results These are all great reasons as to why Core 2021 has crashed in value not even a week after it's release. The current TCG Mid EV of Core 2021 isn't even $70 right now. Think about that for a moment; most distributors sell at between $73-79 a box. That means any Core 2021 booster box purchase is almost a guaranteed loss of money. What else does that mean though? It means that singles are ridiculously cheap. Alternate arts, collectors singles, foils, and all sorts of casual/commander goodies are dirt cheap. I'll talk more about what we should be looking to pick up due to this in my next article. Thanks! Pat's Pickups of the week
Honor-Worn Shaku has been on the move lately. This is probably due to Shrines becoming popular in Commander. It's definitely worth picking up at $7 or less if you can find it.
Ethereal Forager from Commander 2020 is on the rise as well. There are a lot of great sleepers in the Commander 2020 decks that can be obtained for pretty cheap right now.
Chandra, Heart of Fire is a pretty good red mythic that can be found for less than $2 right now. I have a feeling this card could see some play after rotation so it's good to get some early while you can.